Learning things the hard way

I spent this weekend in Miami visiting my boyfriend. But the journey getting there was full of L’s (losses)! I felt like I just couldn’t catch a break. After a series of unfortunate events, I missed my original flight and spent the next few hours trecking all over the airport trying to find another flight out. My airline didn’t have any other flights for the night so I was checking with other airlines. I’ve never missed a flight before so I felt like such a failure, like really irresponsible. And of course I’m thinking about study time lost while I’m getting my cardio in for the day/week. After many rejections and more money spent I finally reached my destination 6 hours later. I will never miss another flight in my life I’ll tell you that much.

And THEN on the way back, nobody told me that if you don’t fly on your airline out, they don’t save your return flight. So when I got to the airport for my return flight at 9am, I found that out the hard way. So I had to get yet another flight, but they still put me on standby for that flight. I was one person away from making standby -_-. Thankfully, Leslie hadn’t left the airport yet (he was taking a nap) and was able to pick me back up with no issue. Ended up leaving on a 5pm flight. I enjoyed the extra time but since I was now eating into my Sunday work day, I had to spend much of it studying. So, this weekend ended up being a heck of a lot more expensive than planned, but still worth every penny.

IMG_7461.JPG

I took a lesson from it all though, which is why I decided to write about it instead of suppress my misfortune. You simply cannot plan everything out to the T, that’s not how life works. And when things don’t go as planned, it’s all about your attitude and how you respond that makes the difference. At first I was so frustrated and teary-eyed but I had to pull myself together and remind myself that I couldn’t change my circumstances; I just had to keep it moving with the current situation. Dwelling on the past would do nothing for me. I tried as best I could to keep my thoughts positive (emphasis on try). When you’re already in a tough spot, negativity will only add fuel to the flames that are consuming you. I’ve learned these lessons before, but I was definitely reminded of them this weekend.

Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand. -Proverbs


Praise God for journey mercies though because I made it back in town safely. I’m 10 days out from my shelf exam for Family Medicine and currently not feeling very comfortable with the material, so please extend your prayers to me and my brain!

Have a wonderful week!

ije long logo BLK

How you can make a difference as a medical student on rotations

We play a small but mighty role in the lives of our patients!

It can be pretty hard sometimes to find your place as a member of the “team” while you’re on your rotations. Speaking from experience, it’s hard to feel like I’m making much of a difference. After feeling good about the patient encounter and presenting everything to the attending (including the correct diagnosis for the patient), they come in and ask all the same questions and do all the same physical exam! Of course I understand why, but I can’t help but feel a little undermined at times. If you’re in a big hospital on a team with interns and residents then you might feel even more useless, because the students in training do all of the real work. I remember feeling lost in the shadows my time on a hospitalist team. Technically I was following my own patients and would present on them, but after rounds I was pretty out of the loop, unless I forced myself into it (and I didn’t want to be that girl). So it can be pretty frustrating. But rest assured, there are ways that you can impact your patients unlike any other person, as well as make a huge difference for your care team.

We’re eager and fresh in this new environment. We haven’t been jaded by the system and we only want to do the best by our patients. Our hearts tug when we hear bad news; we give people the benefit of the doubt; we believe it when they say they’re taking their medicine. This is such a meaningful thing that patients actually notice! There’s a difference in the way a medical student talks to them versus an attending. We show them the compassion, care, and empathy that they truly need and sometimes don’t get. There are times we can do more for them than all of the medications and tests that the residents are ordering. We have the time to sit with them and get to know them more personally. This especially goes if you don’t have to write notes after your patient encounter. More practically, there are many things you can do to be a rockstar team member: print rounding reports, gather new data on patients, do extra research on topics you or the residents may be pimped on, etc.

I’ll always remember on my OB/GYN rotation, there was a patient whose child had to be transported to another hospital while she had to stay to recover. It was so hard for her to be separated from her child. I came in during pre-rounds and was a soundboard for her to express her feelings. I told her that she was going to be a wonderful mom and that the time would soon come for her to be reunited with her child. I stopped in again later in the day, and as she was being discharged, she thanked me so much for being her rock as she waited for the go-ahead to leave the hospital. And she gave me the biggest hug. She said people just came in and out of her room all day and no one cared what she was going through. In that moment I felt like I did more for her than any of the nurses or even my attending–who really just signed her discharge papers.

So just remember that even though you might not have access to the computer record to look up patient info, or you might be the third person to take the same patient history, you really can make all the difference in a patient’s life. Our worth as medical students is unfortunately defined by how good our oral presentations and differential diagnoses are. But our worth as physicians is really in the connections we make with patients and in the rapport we build with them. That’s what makes all the difference. While learning to be good clinicians, we are also learning to be good doctors.

greys anatomy yang GIF


Have a wonderful week! Subscribe on your way out if you haven’t already!

ije long logo BLK

Life and Death

A week of palliative care has shown me a lot

I’ve spent a week on my palliative care rotation and boy has it been heavy. Palliative care is focused on quality of life and relief of symptoms, especially towards the end of life. I’m assigned to a nursing home, so not only am I exposed to end of life issues, but I’ve been able to learn about geriatric/elder patient care in general. I did a puzzle with a 94 year-old in occupational therapy and I saw a patient around the same age in her last days of life. It’s been quite the ride.

Earlier in the week I was part of a very delicate conversation concerning one of our patients nearing the end of life. It was a team meeting with the patient’s son and grandson. Our medical director asked questions like “how do you envision a good death for the patient?” and “what are your goals for the end of life?” They were trying to think about what the patient would want, as he could no longer speak for himself. Such a delicate time for the family.

Dealing so much with death and end of life has actually made me reflect a lot on life and how we all want to life full lives. And even at old age, after living a full life, death can still come suddenly to a family. There’s never really any way to prepare for that conversation. But it’s a reminder to live each day to the fullest and take advantage of all the ways you can make a difference in people’s lives. To pursue your passions and not put a hold on your goals for life. Because at the end, we aren’t all going to be blessed with the opportunity to plan out how we or our loved ones will leave the world.

As a future physician it’s nerve-racking to think that I’ll have to have these kind of conversations with patients and their families as soon as my first year out of school. So I’m happy to be getting the small exposure I am now so that maybe when I’m more important I’ll be able to guide a family through such a vulnerable time as this.


One more week of palliative care, then Family Medicine. Stay tuned. I’m excited for the week ahead!

ije long logo BLK

Reclaiming your time | Time management 101

Time management is one of the most difficult things for many people to master, especially the professional student. Some people have always had a knack for it, and others have always felt like there just aren’t enough hours in the day. I come at this from the student perspective (professional and pre-professional), but most of the advice I have will actually be applicable to people in the “real world” too. I consider myself credible on this topic after successfully juggling school, extracurriculars, social life, etc. for many years now. I will cover just the basics of time management, just enough for you to get started on your journey to reclaiming your time!

 reclaim maxine waters reclaiming my time reclaiming GIF

In order for you to master your time you need to first recognize what you’re doing with your time. What are the fixed times in your day (classes, work, etc.) and what are you doing with all of the other hours in the day that aren’t fixed? This can be done mentally or through hour-by-hour tracking. You might notice that a chunk of your day is spent napping or you spend way too much time between getting home from school, showering, and dinner before you’re ready to be productive again. Small revelations can make a big difference in your management.

The next step is to figure out how you want to manage your time. This step also takes a little self awareness because there are so many ways to go about this & you want to choose one that best for you. Planners are so cute and chic and make your flat lays pop, but if you’re never going to actually write in it, what’s the point? If you want to go electronic, you need to make sure you choose something that syncs between your phone and computer. In other words, don’t use iCal on your Mac when you have an Android phone–try google calendar instead. If you are a ToDo list person, I don’t believe you can ever truly master time management, because there’s nothing about them that actually manages your time, they just help you stay organized. They are a great add on to an already established schedule. Personally–well first of all I’m a micromanager of my time, so a lot of what I do is unnecessary for the average person. I use iCal which syncs in real-time between my phone and laptop. I’m able to color coordinate (unnecessary) categories such as personal, academic, specific student orgs, etc. I can usually schedule out about a week in advance, but sometimes I end up scheduling out the day on the morning of–it be like that sometimes. I schedule free time and breaks also, which I advise so you be sure you have little blips of time for yourself.

 day work computer first vacation GIF

So, once you’ve chosen your method, the final, but most important thing, is to know what you have to get done, and how much time it will take you to get done. One of the biggest mistakes that people make is being overambitious thinking they can finish something in less time than reality. I’ve learned it’s always better to overestimate how much time something will take because it takes the edge off and if you finish sooner, then great! Then you can take a break or keep it pushing and go to bed earlier. For example, if you have a one hour block between class and a meeting, you will serve yourself better by reviewing old material or sending some emails than trying to tackle a new lecture you got that day. You’ll spend so much brain power and just when you’re starting to flow, your times up. So save hard core studying for times when you can dedicate at least 2 hours or time.

After that, all you need to do is actually figure out when to get things donewhen in the day and when in the week. With the first step (recognizing what you’re doing with your time), you would have realized which days are heavier on the extracurriculars and have more awkward gaps of time, and which days can be real hard core study days. In order to most efficiently map out a day, you need to determine when you are most productive. Are you a morning person (like me) and can wake up at 5:30am to study before classes? Or do you get your best work done between 9 and 11pm. You’d want to schedule your main studying during your peak productivity hours, and your busy work/errands/exercise/etc. for your off-peak hours. How much sleep do you need a night to be alert all through the day (no nap included)? Sleeping more and napping less can make a big difference as well. And if you hold leadership and have a million extra tasks you need to get done, take advantage of bursts of time that might not even feel “free” like waiting for a friend or breaks in class or that 5 mins before class really starts.


These are some of the things that have helped me improve my time management. If you’d like to know more about his I schedule my days specifically, please contact me. I hope that these tips help you get a better grip on your days. Or if you know someone who struggles with this, pass this post along to them! Have a great week!

ije long logo BLK

How to keep fighting the good fight

What do you do when you’re ready to throw in the towel?

It doesn’t take much time after starting school that all the excitement gets sucked out of everything and you’re just fighting to stay afloat. That’s not a very optimistic statement to make, but there’s some truth in it, especially in medical school. There are random moments when you’re reminded of why you’re putting yourself through such suffering, but they seem few and far in between, until you get to the clinical years. For the first two years of med school, lots of people use the swimming analogy: everyone is just trying to stay afloat. There’s times when you’ve got your stride and you’re cruising, and at some points (most points) you’re barely making it, swamped by the waves that keep coming and coming…and coming. It takes so much effort to stay afloat, eventually your body gets tired, and you want to say screw it. But you can’t. Because you’re supposed to get a couple letters behind your name soon, and you really want those letters.

So what do you do? Here’s some tips from my experience on how to keep fighting the good fight.

  1. Keep good friends around you–I don’t use the term friend here loosely. When Isay friend, I mean someone you can confide in, who knows your weaknesses, who you don’t have to explain yourself to, who only wants to uplift you. When we share our joys they are doubled, and when we share our burdens, they are halved. Medical school isn’t meant to go through alone. It’s important to have friends around you that can encourage you and tell you that you can do it when you don’t believe in yourself. Watch the people you surround yourself with, because negative, toxic friendships can easily add to hardship. happy dog sad hug adorable GIF
  2. Don’t rely on your own strength–We are all strong people, especially to be in this field. We know how to fight to stay up late or wake up early, study harder to get the results we want. But sometimes the fight just isn’t in us. Human strength isn’t always enough and we need to call on God to give us the supernatural strength and power we need to persevere. Surrender it to Him and let him take control. Staying faithful in the Word and strengthening your spirit can help you tap into that power on demand.
  3. Have an outlet/escape–It feels like my life is consumed by medicine, especially so back in first and second year. I found that it was actually harder for me to stay afloat when I convinced myself that I didn’t have time to refresh and do things I enjoyed. I would envy people who had time to keep up with TV series until I realized that they were making time for things to let their brains escape while I had mine on lock down. I learned that taking breaks can actually make your time studying more efficient. So when you feel like you’re ready to throw in the towel, do it. Refresh. But only for a little while.
  4. Give yourself positive affirmations–write them on your bathroom mirror, put  write you are beautiful writen GIF hem on your screensaver, leave sticky notes around your room, recite them to yourself every morning. Positive affirmations help increase your mental toughness, so when doubt, weakness, or negative energy comes your way you can easily block it out because you’re full or positivity. Examples include your favorite uplifting quotes, bible verses, or simple phrases such as: “you are smarter then you think,” “I am powerful,” “I’m going to be a doctor one day,” “You make the world a better place,” “you are important.” You get the idea.
  5. Trust the process–The road isn’t easy and it’s not supposed to be. This profession isn’t for the weak hearted. The process is meant to test you, sharpen you, grow you. We all struggle. When someone on the other side tells me that everything is going to be OK, it’s hard to swallow in the moment. But then I cross that hurdle and realize that they were right. When the going gets tough, instead of getting worn out, we have to trust that we will be better professionals because of this, and let our future selves motivate and pull us through.

Thanks for reading. If you liked this post, check out this one on Embracing the Journey! Subscribe below for more updates from The Balancing Act.